Skip to content

The Fighter’s Mind, Inside the Mental Game

May 13, 2011

If any reader has ever thought “fighting” to be some barbaric competitive outlet that has no bearing outside of brawn a read of The Fighter’s Mind, Inside the Mental Game will offer enlightening insight.

Author Sam Sheridan shares the universality in the simple line, “that everyone is fighting something,” and in this book addresses what some consider to be a cliche tag, ‘”Fighting is fifty percent mental”‘ (preface). Throughout Sam’s travels he interviews great fighters from various backgrounds and styles setting out to answer many questions from many minds. Among those there is one mind familiar to many in an unrecognized way.

Josh Waitzkin proves to be a mountain of mental development within the ring. Searching for Bobby Fischer is a film adapted from “a book that Josh’s ‘Pop’ had written about Josh’s early chess career” (pg. 184). As an early chess master both his mind and his reputation were no strangers to fame. As an author himself, Josh has written both Attacking Chess and The Art of Learning (both of which are available directly from the author’s website, here) the later of which received praise from numerous inspirational writers including Deepak Chopra. It is within this chapter that Sheridan truly taps the undeniable truth of the psychological traps and pitfalls to which the contenders are subject.

Queries stretch along lines of heroes, unmatched rivals and personal inspirations. What it takes to be one of those heroes is answered in part by esteemed trainers such as Freddie Roach and Greg Jackson.

How these men reach heightened planes of performance is unveiled through their own given circumstance. These men accomplish amazing physical feats such as is with the case of “Captain America” Randy Couture whose body has become more of a championed machine. During strenuous activity our bodies produce higher levels of lactic acid resulting in what we experience as fatigue. After years of vigorous conditioning Randy’s body does not.

The Fighter's Mind, Inside the Mental Game

Click image to buy The Fighter's Mind

Where the fight takes place stretches over continents and transcends both the mind and body. Later in the book, we see a list from Applied Sport Psychology containing qualities of “peak performance” (pg. 255):

  • Loss of fear–no fear of failure
  • No thinking of performance
  • Total immersion in activity
  • Narrow focus of attention
  • Effortless performance–not forcing it
  • Feeling of being in complete control
  • Time/Space disorientation (usually showed down)
  • Universe perceived to be integrated and unified
  • Unique, temporary, involuntary experience
Sam relates these bullets to the Zen of martial arts.

The who contained within the book includes well-known names of accomplished fighters including Rory Markham, Mark DellaGrotte,  Frank Shamrock, Andre Ward, Dan Gable and Renzo Gracie.

However many questions are answered inside of this text the why is the sought after reason which remains most elusive. During an interview with Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, Sam is asked why he crossed the boundary and traveled to Thailand to fight and replies with a less than articulate response (which he acknowledges nearing the close of the book) and follows with a comment about fighting being an “art,” to which Jon lays his exquisite wit.

There is much to be said about the passion driving performance across the board, going beyond fighting, beyond running, beyond theater. Dually personal and widely relative this read, while not providing the backing to qualify fighting as an art, does allow answers for the who, what, when, where and how of the mind’s journey while faced with the life and death bouts that extend far beyond the category of sport.

In summation, to quote a friend, the message anyone can find resonate here is that, “To be really really good at anything takes dedication and a lot of hard work.”

Sam Sheridan is also the author of A Fighter’s Heart.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Annie permalink
    May 18, 2011 13:39

    Such a beautiful mind!

Say something to Nick.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: